Love ‘em; hate ‘em. They bark loudly; they foul the path; they bite; they can give you rabbies. They can also be faithful friends; protect you and give you companionship and lot of pleasure; as well as healthy psychological benefits. Who cares? There seems to be millions of them in Thailand, and Bangkok is no exception. But what can we do about them? What approach should we take?
ืNow before, I start. I realise this is a delicate topic. So I’ve asked my mates to help me make this as politically correct as I can. But I take full responsiblility. Some of you will be outraged. Some of you outraged people will be doggy lovers. Some of you outraged people will hate dogs. Both sides must write in and comment. It will make you feel better to get it off your chest.
Many live in packs in sois (small roads). They’re called soi dogs and many like to bark at you. They also come running out in vicious, angry packs from houses. The owners don’t seem to give a damn most of the time. They tell you that their dogs don’t bite, but I’m not so sure. I’ve heard too many stories from people who’ve been told that only to be bitten. If you are bitten, you have to go and have a series of rabies injections, which is a pain – mentally, physically, emotionally and financially. You can have one big special but that costs an arm and a leg.
I always take a cane when I go out for a walk. I bang it on the road first when they come running out, which startles them and if they get too close, I swing the stick. The owners don’t usually call their dogs off but they do seem scared I’m going to hurt their dogs. You can also shout out in Thai or Isaan to tell the dogs to stop, but I find it more effective to tell the dogs that they look delicious and I’m going to eat them. Owners get worried then and call their dogs back.
People do eat dogs here. They collect them in vans and sell them to dog cooks who stew them up into a spicy soup. People exchange their dogs for plastic bowls or buckets. They look a sad sight locked up in a cage on the back of a pick-up.
I have hit a few dogs on the snout and taken them by surprise when they’ve tried to bite me in a doggy ambush. I can see them out of the corner of one of my eyes. They then run off and hide. The next time I walk past, they cower down by a wall or a tree. I’ve also thrown small rocks at their faces. That works too. I’ve also had to pretend to pick up a stone and hold my hand up. That usually holds them off. If the dogs look reasonable, I sometimes make soothing noises and that can work too. It often helps if they get to know you. Give them food and then they’ll like you. If not show them who’s boss. That always works.
Another trick they have is to come up behind you without barking so they can bite you in the calf. One dog tried that with me once. I swung my shopping bag at it. A bottle fell through the bag and exploded in front of the dog’s face. That frightened it. I then threw the other bottle at the dog. The owner saw it but stayed hiding in his house. I could see him.
A mate of mine once said he would like to go around on the back of a pick-up and shoot them with shot guns. He suggested we could throw them into the pick-up and cook them. When pressed, he backed down. He was scared the owners would have him done in, not forgetting it’s not a good idea for foreigners to be seen with guns.
If I’m driving and a dog runs out, I slow down and hoot but I will never swerve. As a result, some dogs have gone under my car. I could hear them bouncing around. One also ran into the side and one, I think, tried to attack my car at night by running straight at it. It’s not so bad when I’m driving, but when I’m riding a bike I often swerve out and then I could be hit by an on-coming vehicle.
Now, I don’t always blame the dogs. It’s the owners often who don’t keep them locked up, don’t train them not to attack passers-by and don’t call them off when they attack. There are also a lot of irresponsible dog owners who let their dogs foul every where where humans step. Worms in the dog faeces can blind children, not forgetting the awful smell. They should pick it up. However, thank goodness, a lot of dogs like to eat their own faeces or other dogs’ faeces. You see that particularly with the soi dogs, who are obviously hungry.
There are also too many owners who don’t walk their dogs. They get frustrated and want to attack. This is especially worrying with big dogs like the Rot Weilers and the Rot Weiler cross breeds. When they come out, I don’t run. I don’t look them in the eyes. I stay still and look down and call out to the owners to call them off. Oh, and I never run. Never run from a dog. They run faster. They will chase you; you’ll get tired eventually and they might bite you in the back of your leg.
You probably think I hate dogs. I don’t. I have one of my own and I keep it on a farm. It’s well looked after; it’s healthy, strong and happy. It goes to the vet when it has too and the vet has said how impressed she was with my dog. Whenever I visit my dog, it follows me on country walks. It’s smart and knows how to deal with the vicious packs who run out to intimate it. I didn’t buy the dog. I rescued it from the street when it was a puppy. It knows that. It’s grateful and has tried its best to do what it thinks I require it to do.
One last note about the soi dogs: I go out with my family and feed them. We use scraps-meat, veg. and rice. The dogs love us and never cause us any problems when we walk past them. One person suggested we shouldn’t do that as it encourages them to breed and cause a nuisance. I pointed out that that is not the Buddhist way. Buddhists believe it will create good kharma for them and their family. No, I used to hate dogs before I came to Thailand, but now I don’t. I’m beginning to understand them; I’m learning how to live with them and I want to help them.
Now, a lot of you will say we shouldn’t feed them, but if you want to you can too. Kitchens will give you the food they usually throw out and you can feed the dogs with that. It’s a cheap, free hobby. You get to speak to other people who do the same and it will make you feel good about yourself and your life. Go on, do it! Woof, woof.
A lot of my mates hate dogs. They are going to write in and comment on that. A lot of mates love dogs and hate people who hate dogs. They will write in too. Be ready. Are you ready for the doggy party? Woof. Woof.